"Do you know what it means to come home at night to a woman that will give you a little love, a little affection, a little tenderness? It means you're in the wrong home, that's what it means." - Richard Prince.
Richard Prince first began mining from mass media while working in the tear-sheet department at TIME/LIFE in New York during the 1970s. Appropriating popular advertisements for jewelry, clothing, home furnishings, and cigarettes, he breathed new life into staid images through his now signature wily augmentation-removing advertising copy, adjusting colors, cropping, re-photographing, and arranging into generic groups. Says Prince, "At the end of the day, all I was left with was the advertising images, and it became my subject. Pens, watches, models-it wasn't your typical subject matter for art," (K. Rosenberg, "Artist: Richard Prince," New York Magazine, May, 5 2005). Prince and his "pictures generation" contemporaries-such as Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, and Cindy Sherman- together seized and redefined ideas of photographic ownership in the public domain, examining the sanctity of originality and the definition of authorship.
Prince has employed many prominent feminine stereotypes over the years--the celebrity glamazon, naughty nurse, ice-cold fashion model and the tough, sexy biker chick--re-possessing images from high and lowbrow sources, oozing hackneyed desire. His Girlfriends are re-photographed from Biker magazines; enlarged to prodigious life-size, these portraits comment on self-promotion, gender, and erotic culture. Says Prince of the now infamous Girlfriends: "It wasn't my reality, but it can become your reality when you start to possess it," (N. Shukur, "Artists/Richard Prince," Russh Magazine, 2010).
Untitled (Girl-Friend), 1993 sprawls, tantalizing, across her chromo motorbike; her provocative expression and mohawked stubble infused with sexy grit. Scantily clad to reveal a lithe body and a long, snaking tattoo on her upper thigh, she affects a true counter-culture fantasy. Says Prince, "The biker girls came about after I left Time/Life. I quit the job and I was suddenly confronted with other types of magazines I discovered at the newsstands. I was living in California at the time and I decided that rather than paying attention to the advertising in the magazine, I would pay attention to the editorial part and I remember going to the newsstand and seeing a number of biker magazines and of course I had nothing to do with that scene. Usually what I'm attracted to are things that I don't have much to do with. In these magazines, there were a lot of images of women that were called 'girlfriends.' Boyfriends would take a picture of their girlfriend and send it to the magazine and the magazine would reproduce it. I suppose, you know, you have the cowboy on one hand and the girlfriend on the other... it's not even kind of like the girl next door, she was the girl next door. I've always said that if I could change places for a day I would change my place to be a Girlfriend," (N. Shukur, "Artists/Richard Prince," Russh Magazine, 2010).